Rugby League - Harris rues missed opportunities

Wales coach Iestyn Harris put on a brave face after watching his side crash out of the World Cup with a second consecutive defeat to a qualifying team.

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Rugby League - Harris rues missed opportunities
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Wales crashed out of the World Cup

Beaten 32-16 by Italy at the Millennium Stadium in their opening group match, Harris' side went down 24-16 to the United States in front of a shell-shocked crowd of 8,109 in Wrexham.

It means Wales will be playing for pride in their final pool match against Cook Islands in Neath next Sunday while the Tomahawks eye an unlikely quarter-final against Australia in Wrexham.

"It's a bad result but, as the World Cup has shown, I don't think you can tag anybody as a bad team because come the World Cup they come from all over the world," Harris said.

"There wasn't one USA man in the whole squad. There's a lot of Australian-based players in there who are of a very good quality."

There was no hint of the shock to come when Christiaan Roets gave Wales the lead with the first of his two tries but Harris' side conceded 24 points before producing a late rally.

"We had probably 20 or 25 opportunities in the game to score points," Harris said.

"We took a lot of wrong options, a lot of our decision-making wasn't on and ultimately it's come down to the fact that we haven't hit the best of us.

"We're not a good enough side to be at 50-60 per cent and expect to win games. We weren't anywhere near where we needed to be. We didn't deserve to win.

"The USA were dogged and they stayed with us. It was up to us to put that game to bed and we weren't good enough."

Former Hull KR forward Clint Newton claimed two of the Tomahawks' five tries while skipper Joseph Paulo scored a try and kicked two goals in a second consecutive man-of-the-match performance.

The Tomahawks, thrown together at short notice, have now won five matches in a row, following their Colonial Cup double over Canada and their stunning warm-up victory over France in Toulouse.

Sunday's display demonstrated that their opening win over Cook Islands in Bristol was no fluke and they will secure a place in the last eight if they beat Scotland in their last pool match in Salford on Thursday or if Cook Islands fail to beat Tonga at Leigh on Tuesday.

"I'm really proud," said USA coach Terry Matterson, who stepped into the breach on the eve of the tournament when Brian Smith pulled out.

"I didn't know these guys until two weeks ago and they've worked really hard in that time.

"We've been given a really tough draw. We had to back up after four days so we had one captain's run yesterday and we've got the same again.

"To come here against a good Welsh team with everything to play for. They were playing for their World Cup and threw everything at us.

"Defensively I thought we were outstanding. There were a couple of blips at the end but I can forgive that.

"It was an outstanding performance, the boys keep defying belief to be honest. We'll keep our heads down and keep working hard and worry about the next game against Scotland."

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